McLeod Bethel-Thompson leads New Orleans Breakers to victory in first USFL start

Photo: New Orleans Breakers

McLeod Bethel-Thompson helped lead the New Orleans Breakers to a 22-15 win over the Pittsburgh Maulers in his first start with his new team in the USFL.

The longtime CFL quarterback completed 23-of-41 pass attempts (56.1 percent) for 302 yards and one touchdown in the victory. He also ran the ball four times for 16 yards.

Pittsburgh tied the game at 15-15 late in the fourth quarter when Isiah Hennie returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown.

Bethel-Thompson then led a seven-play, 50-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Jones to secure the win. The score occurred with 1:13 remaining in the game, after which the Maulers turned the ball over on downs.

The 34-year-old chose not to re-sign with the Toronto Argonauts this off-season, releasing a lengthy statement in which he expressed his desire to be closer to his family in 2023. He is also hopeful that playing in the USFL will help him garner an NFL contract.

The native of San Francisco, Calif. led the CFL in passing yards this past season, completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 4,731 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He helped Toronto win the 109th Grey Cup but exited the game in the fourth quarter after suffering a dislocated thumb. He subsequently underwent surgery and appears to have made a full recovery.

The six-foot-four, 220-pound passer has played in a number of alternative professional leagues in the past, spending time in the Arena Football League and United Football League in between NFL stops. He spent the cancelled 2020 CFL season playing in The Spring League, which formed the foundations of the current USFL.

Bethel-Thompson played 74 games over five seasons with the Argonauts, throwing for 13,261 yards, 70 touchdowns, and 49 interceptions. He was named an East Division all-star in 2021 and 2022 and led the league in touchdown passes in 2019.

The veteran passer went unselected in the 2011 NFL Draft but spent time with a number of teams in the league, including the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles. He has never dressed for a regular season NFL game.

Sunday’s game between the Maulers and Breakers was played at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala. As per USFL policy, attendance figures for the contest were not announced.